It’s not often you see a room full of teenagers held in rapt attention while someone gives a history lesson, but sitting in the Dr. Eells Underground Railroad Home, Board Member Dave Oakley painted a compelling picture for the visiting students from the Quincy Teen REACH program.
In 1842, Quincy had only been incorporated as a city for 2 years. Missouri was nearly the wild-western frontier of major settlements in the US. A strong tension had already gripped the nation and would eventually boil over into Civil War in the years that followed. Nowhere was this tension more palpable than in Quincy, a major river hub at the time, which sat at the border of the slave state of Missouri and the free state of Illinois.
One hot summer night that August, a slave from Monticello, Missouri known only by his first name, Charley, stepped onto the Missouri side of the Mississippi shoreline and began a swim for his life.